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The Detainee    by Peter Liney order for
by Peter Liney
Order:  USA  Can
Jo Fletcher Books, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Peter Liney's debut novel, The Detainee, portrays a harrowing dystopian future in which the most vulnerable members of society (both young and old) are disposed of like garbage (literally, on an island that is a garbage dump), scapegoats for society's dissolution. There, reminsicent of Lord of the Flies, the feral youngsters, drugged and under the direction of older Wastelords, prey on their frail elders, armed with machetes.

Why not simply leave this 'ass end of civilization'? Satellites, which also shoot down anyone committing violence (the gangs of kids only hunt when fog blinds the satellites) are also programmed to slaughter any detainee attempting to leave the island Village. Our hero is Clancy ('Big Guy'), once an enforcer for a crime lord. Scavenging at night for copper cable, he is pursued by a gang and rescued by blind Lena, who escaped the Wastelords to live alone in a network of subway tunnels under the Old City.

Once his injuries are healed, Clancy returns to the Village, where he has friends - gnome-like friend Jimmy, a scavenger who is a mechanical genius, and Jimmy's tough partner Delilah. But he returns to Lena and, as the gang violence escalates, eventually brings Jimmy and Delilah underground too. After they raid the Wastelords for antibiotics, top Wastelord De Grew unleashes all his resources to seek them out. It's a David and Goliath conflict between the old folk (plus a few young allies they convince to side with them) but they find a way.

It's an engrossing, though very dark, read. Fortunately, Peter Liney does shine some light at the end of the tunnels for these embattled seniors, who decide to do what they need to while they're still alive. I won't say you'll enjoy The Detainee but it's definitely worth reading.

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